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Is your expat period over? Are you planning another international move, but this time, back home? Check our tips to make the relocation back home as smooth as possible!

“And here I was, me and my family preparing another international relocation (contacting moving companies, booking flights, searching for a house…). To be honest, we thought the process would be easy-peasy, as, in the end, we were just moving back to the UK, our country. However, I wished someone had warned me about all the paperwork, we had to do!”

For plenty of British expats, preparing a relocation back to the United Kingdom seems an easy task which can be arranged in a matter of days. While it’s true that when one goes back to the UK some things are much more easier – there isn’t any language barrier, for example-, organizing an international move back home still means “organizing an international move and readjusting to a life in a country”, in that case, a country where one hasn’t lived for a long time.
Although moving back to the UK isn’t a one-day thing, if you follow our tips, we can assure you that it will be far much easier than you expected.

1. Choosing your moving company

The first thing to plan when you are going back to the United Kingdom is how you are going to ship your belongings. Allow yourself, at least three months for this, and if you are planning to move during the high season – end of the school year or end of the year-, think about contacting international movers with much more notice.

There are a lot of international moving companies online at competitive prices. However, think about the type of move you are looking for:

- Would you like a door-to-door relocation, so the moving company packs all your belongings and also unpacks at the destination?
- Do you have a home in the UK or would you appreciate if the moving company has a storage facility, either in South Africa or in the UK, where they can keep your belongings until you find a new home?
- Are your goods protected? Is your moving company offering you an additional insurance option for your belongings?

2. Finding a new home (and selling your current one)

Sorting out a permanent home in the UK can be a lengthy process– if you are planning to purchase a new one, it can take up to one year, depending on the area you are moving to- and normally, it can’t be started until you are already in the country.  

Thus, it might be wise to arrange for a temporal place to stay. A lot of people might choose to live with relatives and some might consider the option to book a hotel for some time. However, this last option can be quite costly. In that case, it might be worth to check websites, such as Airbnb, for a short-term rental.

If you have a property in South Africa, don’t forget to start its sale with time – it’s a lengthy process too!

3. Taxes and benefits

When you return to the UK you might have some commitments – taxes and contributions to the social security system- and you might be entitled to some benefits. This isn’t an immediate process but failure to meet your obligations might involve some sanctions.

A good page to start checking your commitments, it’s the one in the British Government.

4. Get ready for the changes

Returning home after living abroad is not always a smooth transition. Repatriation can mean a big adjustment period for many people. Your expat period abroad surely has had an impact on your life, and you must accept that you have changed. However, your friends and relatives might have changed too during your absence. This is just a part of life, you just have to be aware that life back at home did not stop while you were away.

Bonus: Children

If you have children, don’t forget to contact the education authorities in the UK responsible for the area you are moving to. They will advise you on the steps required to enroll your children in a British school and the documents needed.

Bonus: Health

Try to get all your medical and dental records from South Africa before your move to the UK. If they aren’t in English, get them translated by an official translator in the UK, so they can be included among your NHS personal files.

If you are looking to move back home and would like a moving quote click here

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